IUDs are the most popular form of reversible birth control in the world — more than 85 million women worldwide use the device.
Available by prescription only, the intrauterine device (IUD) is one of the most effective reversible methods of birth control. An IUD is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made of flexible plastic. It is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Two types are now available in the United States:
- ParaGard® (Copper T 380A) contains copper and can be left in place for 12 years
- Mirena® continuously releases a small amount of the hormone progestin, and is effective for five years
Both IUDs work by affecting the way sperm move and preventing sperm from joining with an egg. The hormone in the Mirena IUD increases effectiveness and lessens menstrual bleeding. It thickens cervical mucus, which provides a barrier that prevents sperm from entering the uterus. It also prevents some women’s ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation).
The best thing about using an IUD is that a woman doesn’t have to do anything once it is in place, no pills to take, no creams or devices to insert immediately before sex. It is forgettable birth control and when using an IUD, a woman is protecting herself from an unwanted pregnancy while still being able to enjoy spontaneous intimacy with her partner.”
IUD insertions are performed in the office. There may be some cramping which disappears in a few minutes. Often ultrasound is used to confirm the IUD’s placement. If you are interested, please call our office to check that it is covered by your health plan.
Quick Facts about IUDs
- The IUD is not noticeable during intercourse.
- Depending on the IUD chosen, a woman can be protected from pregnancy for one to 12 years.
- IUDs are greater than 99 percent effective as birth control.
- Some factors, including your age, your childbirth history, and your doctor’s experience with IUD insertion, can reduce its effectiveness.
- An IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS – use a latex or female condom with the IUD to reduce the risk of infection.
- Women who want to become pregnant may have their IUD removed at any time.
- Most birth control options have some type of health risk. The most serious problems possible are infection, tubal pregnancy, and perforation of the uterine wall.